While I’ve already written ways to spend two weeks in Korea, I thought I’d make one giant Korea itinerary guide for a month.
I do think one month isn’t nearly enough to see all of Korea, but I’m obviously quite biased ;).
I decided to make this itinerary a bit faster than I’d normally travel just so I could fit in as much as possible. If you only can ever come to Korea once, this should help you feel like you saw everything you could see.
Quick Korea Travel Tips
- Getting in: If you’re coming from abroad, you’ll most likely fly into Incheon International Airport (ICN). It’s about an hour from Seoul and extremely easy to take the subway to get to your hotel. However, you can also get a taxi or book a transfer beforehand.
- Stay Connected: While Korea is pretty well connected wifi wise, I always recommend getting a SIM card! Even better, Korea offers e-SIMs! You can buy ahead and not even have to take out your normal SIM.
- Getting Around: All major cities have some sort of subway system and there’s a pretty robust bus system all around the country even in more rural areas. Download KakaoMap for the most up to date information. In between cities, you can take the train or bus. For trains, I always use Let’s Korail to buy tickets ahead of time as they can sell out. For buses, I usually just show up to the terminal and buy tickets, but my friend told me you could use TxBus, Kobus, or Bustago to order online.
- Language Help: While major tourist points are pretty okay with English, I’d say the rest of Korea you’ll want to have some sort of translation app on hand. And I recommend learning Hangul at least a little bit so you can read. Papago is better than Google translate for Korean.
- Travel Insurance: Korea can be expensive if you wind up in the hospital! I recommend getting either World Nomads or SafetyWing. I personally have an annual plan with Allianz.
The Ultimate Korea Itinerary Guide for 1 Month
Fly Into: Incheon International Airport
Assuming you’re coming from abroad, you’re most likely going to fly into Incheon Airport! Incheon has spoiled me because it’s seriously one of the best airports in the world, even if the “ice rink” is a lie. Seriously, this place even has arrows on the ground to make sure you’re going in the right direction to the subway!
Days 1 – 4: Gangwon Province
So, you’re not actually going into Seoul just yet. Nope, you’re going to the Northeast coast to Gangwon-do! In fact, this is the northernmost province in South Korea.
You get there in one of two ways:
- Take an airport bus from Incheon to Sokcho (Check the schedule here)
- Use the subway to first go to Seoul Station. Then take a train from Seoul Station to Gangneung Station. Forom there take a bus from Gangenung to Sokcho (Airport – 1 hour, KTX – 2 hours, Bus – 1 hour)
Day 1: Sokcho
I’d base myself in Sokcho (속초) for this Gangwon trip. This is the main spot for anyone visiting the area as it’s a gateway city for Seoraksan National Park and has quite a few scenic things to do on its own.
Take the rest of the day to get over jet lag and sleep because your schedule is about to be packed.
Day 2: Hike or visit Seoraksan
Spend the day hiking Seoraksan, one of Korea’s most important mountains. Or you could take the cable car up, I won’t judge.
Day 3: Sea Train
Take the sea train and stop off at some of the main beaches in Gangwon, including Gangneung, Donghae, and Samcheok. Wander around, relax on the beach, and just enjoy. A good day to rest if you did actually hike Seoraksan. If you do want to do some sightseeing, you could do this Gangneung Taxi Tour.
- Seasonal Options: Goseong Lavender Farm in June, surfing and SUP at Surfyy Beach, or any of the ski resorts in winter
Days 5 – 9: Seoul
Time for one of the coolest cities in the world! I’m not kidding. I’ve been to so many cities in my travels and Seoul still tops the list for me. The biggest thing you should know is that it’s massive. Much bigger than what you’re expecting and unless you want to drain your bank account taking taxis, you’re going to want to give yourself more time than you think to get around via the subway or bus.
Getting back: For your time in Seoul, I recommend staying in Insadong. It’s the best location for everything you’ll want to do below! To get to Insadong from Sokcho, you’ll want to take a bus from Sokcho Bus Terminal to Seoul Express Bus Terminal. From there you can take the subway to the closest station to your hotel.
Day 5: Seoul – Insadong
Once you’ve arrived to Seoul and dropped your things off at your hotel, just walk around and enjoy Insadong! This is probably my favorite neighborhood of Seoul because it’s the most historic area.
If you’re up for some walking, spend the afternoon strolling through Bukchon Hanok Village. It’s really such a pretty place as it’s where all the traditional houses are located! Be sure to go to the main view point, which is someone’s house, and see over the tiled roofs to Namsan Tower. Another good stop is the cool cafe, Green Mile Bukchon! Also my favorite incense shop, Granhand has a location here.
When it comes time for dinner, hop over to Gwangjang Market to sample all the delicious Korean food you can. If it sounds familiar, it’s because the market was featured on Netflix’s “Street Food” series.
Day 6: Storybook Day Tour
There are a few different day tours you can do from Seoul, but I personally love the nearby storybook-esque visits! You could take the subway to Gapyeong and do the Gapyeong shuttle bus or you can book a tour that will take you to each of the spots throughout the day.
I’ve personally only visited via a tour. Most will take you to the Garden of the Morning Calm, Nami Island, and Petite France. Sometimes the tours have one other stop, but I think doing all three is a good amount for one day without feeling overwhelming. Check this tour for prices + availability
Day 7: Changdeokgung & Deoksugung
To start, there are five official grand palaces of Seoul, and on this trip I have you seeing three of them. It sounds like overkill, but I promise these three are particularly different. Gyeongbokgung is the largest of the palaces (more below) while Changdeokgung is known for its Secret Garden and Deoksugung is much smaller and known for having some European style buildings mixed in. I promise they’re worth it!
On this day, you’re going to start off early and go straight to Changdeokgung. It opens at 9, and you want to make sure you get tickets to see the Secret Garden. If you visit during the fall, the line will be long! This whole palace area will take at least 2 hours to see everything.
For lunch and the middle of the day, you can go around Insadong (there’s plenty of good restaurants to pop into) or you can venture over to Seoul University to see all the restaurants and cafes near there.
In the afternoon, head to Deoksugung. Visit the palace grounds themselves before going up to the observatory to get a cool bird’s eye view. This is a particular must if you visit during peak fall foliage season.
Day 8: Full Day Tour to Suwon Hwaseong or the DMZ
Use this day to tour either the DMZ or Suwon Fortress. Both will take you the better part of the day and will showcase an interesting part of Korea’s history. Book a tour to Suwon here or book a DMZ tour here
Seasonal Option: Hike Bukhansan for its fall foliage.
Day 9: Gyeongbokgung + Cheonggyecheon
Start off early and head there to see the changing of the guards and then head in to walk around. Gyeongbokgung is massive, so you’ll probably spend a good few hours there. You can also stop in and visit the National Folk Museum of Korea.
From Gyeongbokgung, walk along Cheonggyecheon, Seoul’s very pretty manmade river. Depending on when you’re visiting, they sometimes have really nice exhibits. You’ll also pass through Gwanghwamun, which has the big statue of King Sejong and usually some sort of event going on.
From Cheongchyecheon, you can walk over to Jogyesa.
Days 10 – 16: Jeollanam-do and Jeollabuk-do
Time for my favorite provinces of Korea! Jeollanam and Jeollabuk (from here on just combined into Jeolla) are a deeply underrated part of the country. I think they’re home to some of the most incredible scenery and, most importantly, the very best food.
I know, I know. I’m biased because this is exactly where I lived for three years, but I promise it’s worse spending at least six days of your month in Korea here.
To get to Jeonju, the first stop in Jeolla, do one of the following:
- Take a KTX, and it’ll be about 90-minutes from Yongsan Station
- The slow train will be closer to 3 hours from Yongsan Station
- A bus will be around 2 1/2 – 3 hours from the Express Bus Terminal
Day 10: Jeonju
The main thing to do is to enjoy the hanok village. Compare it to Bukchon and let me know which one you like better, I’m personally more partial to Jeonju’s version.
Depending on how active you want to be, you can also visit Deokjin Park, especially if it’s around summer with the lotus pond, and/or visit Jeonju’s Mural Village.
The biggest thing to try here is bibimbap. I was a big fan of 종로회관 (Jongno Hoegwan) but you can’t really go wrong no matter where you go here. At night, climb up to Omokdae (오목대) to get a cool view over the village.
Seasonal Options: If you’re visiting in the fall, don’t go straight to Jeonju! Get up super early and take a bus to Naejangsan or Daedunsan! You can hike or take the cable cars up *cough*. From either of those places, you can get a bus back to Jeonju.
Day 11: Namwon
Of course, I have to add Namwon. You can either stay another night in Jeonju and just do a day trip here or stay overnight. Either way, take a bus instead of the train as the bus terminal is right in town while the train station is a little ways out of town.
Otherwise, wander around Gwanghallu, along the river, and eat. People say Jeonju has the best bibimbap, but I think Namwon does ;)
Seasonal Options: If you’re here in May, hike Baraebong instead to see all the royal azaleas.
Day 12: Suncheon
For the rest of your time in Jeolla, Suncheon is the best spot to stay in both because it has a ton to do but also because it’s very easy to get around. I recommend staying around the train station; Sunshine Divine Hotel looks like the nicest option.
Once you’ve dropped off your things, head for the Suncheon Bay Wetland Reserve! If you get in on time, you can hike up and see the sunset over the bay, and it should be gorgeous. The hike is around an hour maybe less and pretty easy if you’re in shape (only a little hard if you’re not). I’ve done it at least… 4 or 5 times in tennis shoes and skirts!
Day 13: Boseong Green Tea Fields
From Suncheon Bus Terminal, you can get to Boseong in about an hour. It’s an easy day trip that will have you trekking around the tea fields, eating all the green tea flavored food, and, if you have time, soaking in a green tea bath near Yulpo Beach. Just check the last bus back from Boseong to Suncheon so you get back in time.
Day 14: Damyang
Day 15: Suncheon
Take a breather in Suncheon and visit Naganeupseong, a pretty fortress village about an hour by local bus from downtown Suncheon. It’s a nice afternoon trip, so sleep in and go around golden hour. There’s also the very fun Open Film Location if you want to see what Korea was like in the 1950s-70s.
Alternatively, you can hike between Seonamsa and Sogwangsa if you still have a bunch of energy.
Day 16: Yeosu
Yeosu is one of Korea’s main port cities, and it’s only 30-minutes away from Suncheon via train! There’s a ton to do but the city is pretty spread out, so you’ll want to splurge on some taxi rides to make it more efficient.
The first thing to do is to go over to Hyangiram on Dolsan Island, a really gorgeous seaside temple that’s worth all the steps, I promise! From there go to Angel Alley to see all the murals and get a coffee at either Nangman Cafe or Cafe Duu. Both have pretty views out to the main Yeosu bridge.
Make your way back into town and enjoy Odongdo, a small island near-ish to the expo. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s a gejang restaurant near Odongdo where you can try raw crab. I personally LOVE it, but it’s not the best for weak stomachs.
Days 17 – 20: Busan
Time for Busan! If Seoul is NYC, Busan is LA but nicer. Actually back when I was planning a month-long trip to Korea pre-pandemic, I was planning to spend a solid week in Busan to get to know it better. Most of my trips have been day trips or short weekend trips from Suncheon/Namwon.
To get to Busan from Suncheon, your best bet is to take either a train or bus. They both should be between 2 and 2 1/2 hours. From there you can use the subway to get to your hotel.
Day 17: Busan
The first day I’d go to Haedong Yongungsa and then hang out around Haeundae. If you have time, visit Spaland and experience the granddaddy of all jimjilbangs in Korea.
I highly recommend making sure you’re at Haeundae for sunset. It’s gotta be one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve seen in Korea.
Day 18: Gyeongju
Do a day tour of Gyeongju! There’s SO much to see in this town as it’s got a ton of historical sites related to the Silla dynasty. If you really want to do DIY this, I’d rent a car because everything is super spread out and I remember the buses not being reliable (no idea if it’s gotten a major update). Otherwise we wound up paying a taxi driver to stay with us the whole day. You’re much better off just booking an actual day tour from Busan, like this one.
Day 19: Day Trip or Enjoy Busan
On this day you have to options depending on how you’re feeling. If you do want to rent a car, this is a good day to do a day trip to Tongyeong! Otherwise, it’s quite hectic trying to get around with the public transportation and/or taxis.
Otherwise you can do a nice hike up Geumjeongsan, relax at either Haeundae or Gwanghalli all day, or see some of the islands close to Busan.
Day 20: Busan
Start the morning over in Gamcheon Culture Village. It’s less busy in the mornings and easily one of my favorite places in all of Korea. The colorful buildings are so super charming and it’s just the perfect area to spend a few hours walking around.
From Gamcheon, you can head over to Nampodong and check out the different markets and alleyways. It’s also close to Jalgachi Fish Market for lunch and/or dinner.
Days 21 – 27: Jeju
Now for my favorite place in all of Korea – Jeju! For such a small island, you’d be surprised by just how many things there are to do. Depending on how you want to explore the island depends on how you’ll figure out where to stay. I’ve been a few times and while the bus system is really good, I do think if there’s one place to rent a car it’s here. If you do rent a car, you can just base yourself in one place the whole time. Otherwise I’d split my stays between the west and east so you’re not spending too much time in public transport
Getting to Jeju: From Busan, you’ll want to fly to Jeju! Don’t even think of taking a ferry. The best one is in Mokpo, which is 4-5 hours from Busan, and even from there it’s 4 hours by ferry. By the time you figure it all out you’ll wish you’d just flown.
When it comes to where to stay in Jeju, my favorite area is the Northeast. PLAYCE Camp is a really cool spot with sort like its own town center vibe. I also LOVED Baco Home 3 & Slow Mansion which is right next to the smaller port for Udo and by a beach that’s basically private with a view of Seongsan from afar. Another favorite was this super rural stay called Romantopia in Southeast Jeju. You really can only stay at these latter two if you have a car, though. Otherwise finding the bus or taxis will take up half your time!
Day 21: Northwest Jeju
If you’re going the bus route, stay around Hyeopjae for two nights. This is a little under an hour from Jeju Airport. For super budgeters Hyeopjae Guesthouse is nice and on the beach and if you can splurge a bit, Dyne Oceano Hotel looks lovely.
For your first day in Jeju, just enjoy the coast! Before you check in, you can actually stop off at Aewol which has a beautiful sea walk as well as some very cute cafes. If you’re feeling up to it, you can even do some sea kayaking.
Once you’re settled in Hyeopjae, you’ve GOT to go to Donato’s for pizza. It’s on par if not better than some slices I’ve gotten in Italy.
Day 22: Hike Hallasan
Hiking day! Hallasan is still one mountain I’ve yet to hike simply because it was either too hot when I went to Jeju or I just didn’t have time. It’s the tallest mountain in the country, and you’ll want to set aside the whole day to do it. Stop off at a convenience store to pack up some kimbap and snacks for the hike.
Day 23-25: Southwest Jeju + Seogwipo
For your next leg you’ll want to go towards Southwest Jeju and stay somewhere in Seogwipo. All the luxury resorts and hotels are in this area if you’re looking for a splurge. When I did my first trip, I stayed at this really cute hostel called Lemon Tree Guesthouse 2, and I’ve always wanted to stay at Hidden Cliff Hotel & Nature.
There’s a lot to see in this area, which is why I recommend spending 2-3 days here. Some of the things you can see include Camelia Hill, O’Sulloc Tea Fields, the three major waterfalls, Yeomiji Botanical Garden, and Daesungeolli Cliffs. Seogwipo is the next largest city next to Jeju City but way cuter and more charming. There are also lots of cute cafes sprinkled around this area!
Day 26-27: Northeast Jeju
Next, head over to the east coast! Like I said the Northeast is my favorite area but you could also stay somewhere along the central eastern coast and still get around pretty easily. Spend one of these days moseying your way all around the even tinier island of Udo and at least one sunrise and sunset around Seongsan Ilchulbong! Sunrise is a must and if you go at the right time you’ll see the hanyeo emerging from the morning catches. Sunset, though, is my favorite time. Instead of hiking up to the peak, walk away along the water and look at it from afar. Truly magical.
Some other things to do include Bijarim Forest, Manjanggul Cave, and way more!
Days 28 – 30/31 – Seoul
From Jeju, you can easily (and fairly cheaply depending on when) fly up to Seoul! I’d stay around Hongdae just because it’s right on the same line as the airport, and it’s a fun area to end your trip on.
Day 28: Seoul – Hongdae
Since Hongdae caters to three different universities (Hongik, Yonsei, and Ehwa), it’s bustling with energy and fun things to do. If you want to relax a bit, I’d spend the day at the Trick Eye Museum which holds the X-rated Love Museum, the actual Trick Eye area, an Ice Museum, and CaFace. There’s also the very fun Yeonnam-dong area which is where a ton of trendy cafes in Seoul are located.
You can also take the subway one stop over to Sinchon and Ehwa to visit those areas as well! Ehwa and Hongdae have really fun shopping if you’re hoping to indulge in some Korean fashion.
Day 29: Seokchon + Lotte World
Day 30-31: Any Last Minute Visits or Shopping
Use your last day or two to do any last minute sightseeing or souvenir shopping. I know I don’t include Namsan Tower, so this is a good day to go up there!
Last Day: Fly Out of Incheon
If you’ve stayed in Hongdae, it’s a very easy hour ride to get to the airport from Hongdae Station. If for some reason you can’t use the subway, you may want to book an airport transfer.
Hope this guide helps you plan the perfect, month-long Korea itinerary! There’s so much to see and do, it might have pained me a little that I couldn’t recommend all of it.
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